Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday demanded that Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol immediately evacuate the building, taking a harder line against the rioters than the president and others in the White House.
"The violence and destruction taking place at the US Capitol Must Stop and it Must Stop Now. Anyone involved must respect Law Enforcement officers and immediately leave the building," Pence wrote on Twitter.
"Peaceful protest is the right of every American," he continued, "but this attack on our Capitol will not be tolerated and those involved will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."
The vice president’s statement diverges from the president’s tweets about the chaos, in that Pence explicitly urged the Trump supporters to leave the Capitol.
The breach took place on Wednesday afternoon, amid Congress’ certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory.
Pence, who was presiding over the proceedings in the Senate, was rushed out of the chamber, and images from the House appeared to show an armed standoff at that chamber’s front door. Both the House and Senate were both forced into lockdown.
Earlier Wednesday, Trump encouraged his supporters at a rally outside the White House to march on the Capitol. He told them that "you’ll never take back our country with weakness," and that "you have to show strength." Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney who spoke before Trump, told rallygoers "let’s have trial by combat."
As the violence escalated, Trump first tweeted an attack at Pence for not aiding his effort to overturn the election results. He later followed up with another post that did not order his supporters to vacate the Capitol complex.
“Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement,” Trump wrote. “They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!”
In a third tweet, Trump asked "for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful. No violence!"
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany also tweeted that at Trump’s direction, National Guard officers were "on the way along with other federal protective services."
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